Both Lestat’s Coffee House and Lestat’s on Park are open 24 hours. That’s pretty unique in independent coffee scene, since most of the time we tend to think of coffee being a morning, midday thing. Lestat’s Coffee house also offers live music and shows almost every other day, and the place gets packed. We were happy to sit down for quick chat with John Husler, a successful business owner of both establishments here in San Diego:
CoffeeShopr: It is rare to find a coffee shop that is open 24 hours. To us it sounds like a great idea! How and why did you decide for Lestat’s to be open 24/7?
John: When I first started going to coffee houses I worked late nights. I would always look for the coffee house open the latest. When I decided to open Lestat’s, it was just my belief that the later you are open the more business you would have. It seems to have worked out for us.
CoffeeShopr: What is the main benefit of having your business always open?
John: Well the number one benefit is you have the potential to earn money 24 hours a day. It also means you never have the problem of turning away customers because you are closing.
CoffeeShopr: What is the biggest challenge in running it 24/7?
John: I would have to say finding the right people to work the graveyard shift. Not that many people are keen on working from late night to early morning and many of the ones who are lack the organizational skills to be a great graveyard employee. To be a great graveyard employee you have to be able to multitask, self motivate and have good attention to detail while maintaining a high level of service.
CoffeeShopr: Lestat’s Coffee House is huge on music and comedy shows, they take place almost every other day. This concept of combining coffee, music and comedy is genius! How did you come up with it and why?
John: The idea of entertainment every night was part of Lestat’s from day one. I myself don’t listen to music because I am hearing impaired, but I value culture in every way. When the idea of Lestat’s was being formed the big question was how are we going to be able to compete in a city with over 300 coffee houses and be relevant. The answer that worked for us was to have everything they had, but to add an emphasis on culture, quality and service. It does attract customers to the shop and it creates a scene that helps the whole area to be more relevant.
People love live entertainment and coffee combined. Photo by Dennis Andersen (cropped)
CoffeeShopr: Do artists contact you to perform at Lestat’s or do you have to do lots of work finding them? How does it work exactly?
John: We look for artist through submission or some use agencies that are aware of us. Many of the smaller acts develop their talents through the open mics and evolve. Since we have a pretty good open mic, it offers a good supply of talent.
CoffeeShopr: What would be your most important advice on organizing the whole thing for coffee shop owners who consider having artists perform at their establishments?
John: Don’t try to control everything. Allow the culture to grow naturally and avoid getting too much of your ego involved. It is ok to be proud of your café, but don’t believe for one second that it revolves around the owner. You are there to facilitate, not to stand in the spot light.
CoffeeShopr: Thank you very much John for being here with us today. Readers, you can check out up-to-date Lestat’s Coffee House show schedule here.